Hyperloop, dubbed “the fifth mode of transport,” is real. At least, that’s what the introductory video released this week on YouTube is trying to communicate.
Hyperloop is a project envisioned by engineer and inventor Elon Musk. In short, the goal is to build a high-speed transportation system using a low-pressure tube train, with a top speed of 800 miles per hour (1,300 km/h). Hyperloop Technologies and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies are both research companies looking to turn Musk’s vision into reality. The former company has undergone a seed round led by SherpaVentures, while the latter is crowdsourced.
Hyperloop Technologies — that’s the funded company — uploaded this video on Tuesday:
The video does everything in its power to make you feel good about Hyperloop. Catchphrases like “actually make the world a better place” and “live anywhere, work anywhere, and be anywhere” are thrown around as if you were watching a clip about attaining peace on Earth.
The video is unlisted on YouTube. That means you can’t get to it without the direct link — it’s not even visible on Hyperloop’s YouTube Page. And yet, the company’s Twitter account tweeted out the video link on Wednesday:
Hyperloop is here. https://t.co/3odHfl4iRj
— HyperloopTech (@HyperloopTech) September 16, 2015
It’s not clear whether Hyperloop Technologies is confused about how to use YouTube (that would be worrying), but the timing is no surprise. The company issued a press release yesterday from newly appointed CEO Rob Lloyd, former Cisco president of sales and development.
Lloyd called the Hyperloop vision “compelling and disruptive” as well as “the most transformative new mode of transportation that the world has seen in decades.” He also announced that his team consists of more than 50 full-time employees across engineering, design, manufacturing, legal, and human resources.
Former SpaceX engineer and Hyperloop Technologies cofounder, Brogan Bambrogan, the company’s CEO before Lloyd’s arrival, became CTO this week. Lloyd made a point to share what the startup had achieved under his predecessor:
- Compressor: Each HyperPod has a compressor on its forward facing surface that takes in the air in front of it instead of displacing it. This significantly reduces the drag on the Pod as it travel through the tube. We are developing this unique compressor technology to operate at the very high-speeds and low-pressures experienced during operation. We have custom-built a wind tunnel that allows us to do both single blade and cascade tests over a wide variety of speeds & pressures. This will also allow us to test scale models of the innovative HyperPod concepts.
- Levitation: To support the HyperPod and payload during operation, we are baselining the use of air bearings. We have built a Levitation Test Rig to evaluate a variety of air bearing configurations at surface speeds up to 740mph. We’re also looking at some intriguing alternatives to air bearings such as a passive magnetic levitation (maglev) design.
- Propulsion: All electric linear motors are used to propel the HyperPods through the tube. The same motors are used to brake the pods during normal operation, allowing us to recapture much of the energy. We are optimizing and innovating on the full system of elements required for our high-speed propulsion system. These systems include: advanced energy storage, high-power drives & power electronics, high-speed controls, and our custom electromagnetic motor.
- Tube Manufacturing: We are innovating heavily on the tube architecture, construction, and manufacturing process in an effort to build an extremely strong and cost-effective tube structure which can be built and deployed hundreds of kilometers at a time.
But the press release didn’t include a very important goal. Hyperloop Technologies is aiming to build a two-mile test track at its LA campus by the end of 2016, or early 2017. This will be the startup’s first big test, one which many will be watching very closely.